Alice in Wonderland (lost footage from fantasy film; 1949)

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Screenshots from the restored print in the Museum of Modern Art.

Status: Lost

Alice in Wonderland is a 1949 French-British film based on Lewis Carroll's fantasy novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It was directed by Dallas Bower and stars Carol Marsh as Alice, Stephen Murray as the live-action Lewis Carroll and voice of the Knave of Hearts, and Raymond Bussières as the live-action Tailor and voice of the Mad Hatter. The Wonderland characters are stop-motion puppets created by Lou Bunin.

The film has fallen into obscurity over the years, due largely to the actions of Disney Studios. The company prevented it from being widely seen in the U.S. as they did not want it to compete with their own version of the story, which was being released around the same time.[1] Disney's influence also had a negative impact on the film's preservation as, because of their pre-existing arrangement with Technicolor, it had to be shot in inferior Ansco Color which deteriorated badly over time.[2]

Home video releases of the film vary in length, excluding some scenes while including others, and the order they are shown is often switched around. Sudden jumps and cuts throughout indicate that there is missing footage. Indeed, in recent years, Lou Bunin's daughter was able to restore 12 minutes of footage to the film (giving it a running time of 76 minutes), which has since been shown at various screening events. It is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. There are plans by the company Thunderbean to release this more complete version on Blu-ray and DVD, but so far nothing has come of them because of financial and other difficulties.[3]

It's unclear if any more footage from the film is lost, though it has been rumored that it originally had a 90-minute running time. According to those who watched the televised film in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were once additional scenes of the Caucus Race animals chasing Alice, as well as there being more to the subplot of the Knave of Hearts stealing the Queen's tarts. Also, there was apparently a scene based on the one in the book where Alice is accused of stealing a sparrow's eggs which is now nowhere to be found.


The released cut of the film.

An image of the Duchess's Cook being called as a witness during the trial scene (as in the book). This does not appear in any version of the film currently available to the public.

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